The pay raises given to aged care workers may be “abandoned” for a period of time, said Elderly Care Minister Annika Wells.
Ms Wells spoke from Brisbane during a visit by Acting Prime Minister Richard Marls, who said there was a model for how much a wage increase would cost.
She pointed to community workers who were given significant wage increases under the Rudd Gillard administration.
“There’s a lot more work to be done,” Wells told reporters on Tuesday.
“We are ready for anything.”
Mares said raising the wages of elderly care workers was one of the recommendations the royal commission added to the sector, as well as an election promise.
“We are asking people to take care of our loved ones in the last years of their lives,” he said.
“This is really meaningful work and we need meaningful wage increases.
“People are currently not getting paid adequately for the work they do … This is a matter of justice and a matter of equity for those working in aged care.”
This follows the federal government’s submission to the Fair Labor Commission, which advocated for significant wage increases for workers.
The commission is deciding whether to increase wages in the aged care sector, with personal care workers starting at $23.55 (US$16.47) an hour and qualified personal care workers earning $24.76.
The government has pledged to fund wage increases based on the commission’s decisions.
The submission to the Commission on Monday was welcomed by the Health Services Federation and the Australian Federation of Nursing and Midwifery.
“The new government’s recognition of elderly care workers after 10 years of neglect is a blow,” said HSU National President Gerald Hayes.
“Older Australians will not receive the care they deserve until we can attract and retain a workforce to care for them. The government has understood this and has taken action.”
Current compensation rates do not adequately reflect the value of elderly care workers, said ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler.
A 25% increase in wages could increase labor supply in the sector by up to 10% over the next five years, according to government filings.
However, the Treasury Department estimates that such a rise would raise wages across the economy by less than 1%, which could lead to spillover effects in similar sectors.
“In the current economic environment of above-target inflation and persistent global price shocks, inflation expectations would be at risk if similar wage increases were required in related industries,” the filing said. .